A Lady of Quality eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 310 pages of information about A Lady of Quality.
with rank and fortune.  She seemed both to respect himself and her position as his lady and spouse.  Her manner of reigning in his household was among his many delights the greatest.  It was a great house, and an old one, built long before by a Dunstanwolde whose lavish feasts and riotous banquets had been the notable feature of his life.  It was curiously rambling in its structure.  The rooms of entertainment were large and splendid, the halls and staircases stately; below stairs there was space for an army of servants to be disposed of; and its network of cellars and wine-vaults was so beyond all need that more than one long arched stone passage was shut up as being without use, and but letting cold, damp air into corridors leading to the servants’ quarters.  It was, indeed, my Lady Dunstanwolde who had ordered the closing of this part when it had been her pleasure to be shown her domain by her housekeeper, the which had greatly awed and impressed her household as signifying that, exalted lady as she was, her wit was practical as well as brilliant, and that her eyes being open to her surroundings, she meant not that her lacqueys should rob her and her scullions filch, thinking that she was so high that she was ignorant of common things and blind.

“You will be well housed and fed and paid your dues,” she said to them; “but the first man or woman who does a task ill or dishonestly will be turned from his place that hour.  I deal justice—­not mercy.”

“Such a mistress they have never had before,” said my lord when she related this to him.  “Nay, they have never dreamed of such a lady—­one who can be at once so severe and so kind.  But there is none other such, my dearest one.  They will fear and worship you.”

She gave him one of her sweet, splendid smiles.  It was the sweetness she at rare times gave her splendid smile which was her marvellous power.

“I would not be too grand a lady to be a good housewife,” she said.  “I may not order your dinners, my dear lord, or sweep your corridors, but they shall know I rule your household and would rule it well.”

“You are a goddess!” he cried, kneeling to her, enraptured.  “And you have given yourself to a poor mortal man, who can but worship you.”

“You give me all I have,” she said, “and you love me nobly, and I am grateful.”

Her assemblies were the most brilliant in the town, and the most to be desired entrance to.  Wits and beauties planned and intrigued that they might be bidden to her house; beaux and fine ladies fell into the spleen if she neglected them.  Her lord’s kinsman the Duke of Osmonde, who had been present when she first knelt to Royalty, had scarce removed his eyes from her so long as he could gaze.  He went to Dunstanwolde afterwards and congratulated him with stately courtesy upon his great good fortune and happiness, speaking almost with fire of her beauty and majesty, and thanking his kinsman that through

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A Lady of Quality from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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